The Not-So-Obvious Way To Get More Clients & Stress Less
When you're a solopreneur or very small business it's easy to feel like you need to be the end-all be-all for your clients.
If they want something you don't offer they're going to move on to the next guy, while you'll obviously never book another client again and will be destined to live a desolate, pennyless life until one day your cat mercifully decides to eat you.
Just my own fears? Liar.
Seriously though, it can get out of control trying to be everything to everyone. Before you know it you have 15 different service options to keep up with between packages and one-offs and ala cartes, but none of them mean anything because you'll just do whatever they ask anyway.
I'm not judging, I've been there. Like I said, it's a super easy place to reach.
It's also counterproductive if you want to run a serious business and be seen as an expert in your field, which should be the end goal for all of us. By the way, running a serious business doesn't mean you have to be serious all the time. It just means you realize you're running a business, not an expensive hobby.
Now, you can obviously run your business however you damn well choose, but at least hear me out first.
Sometime in mid-2016 I realized I had fallen completely away from the promise I made myself after Creative South; to no longer offer WordPress design as one of my services. It wasn't something I enjoyed anymore, and I wanted to focus on logos and branding - to create new things instead of fighting plugin upgrades. But instead of sticking to my guns, I kept accepting projects I didn't really want. I accepted them out of fear. Fear that I would never get another gig, and fear that I would let down people I could potentially help by no longer offering something I was good at.
I started working with Squarespace some time after failing to keep that promise, and realized I actually enjoyed working with websites again on this platform. The logical thing then would have been to phase out WordPress design and phase in Squarespace, yes? Yes.
So of course I kept WordPress, added Squarespace, and created three new branding packages on top of that. That's in addition to the maintenance plans I was still offering, one-off projects, and basically saying yes to any question that started with "Hey, do you design ______?". Hell, I used to take great pride in taking on any type of design project.
And that's fine, sometimes. And sometimes it's necessary, especially when you're just starting out and learning where you fit. I've made it through some very hard times by doing whatever it takes to make a buck. Within reason, obviously.
But I was tired of being in survival mode. I was tired of just getting by, of not being able to properly schedule projects because they vary so much I never know how long they might take. Of recreating my process over and over again because each project is so different. Of taking on projects out of fear instead of love and feeling my creativity drain away.
Instead, I wanted to thrive. To be able to block out time on my calendar and focus on one project at a time. To know how much money is coming in because I know exactly how many projects I can take on. I want to be known as the go-to chick for branding and Squarespace design. To do that I had to stop jumping around from one thing to the next.
I had to stop letting fear run my business.
I realized around the same time that I wasn't practicing what I preached to my own clients. Simplicity is key for your potential clients, whether they know it or not.
I don't remember the exact timeline of what happened after I had these realizations, but I do know where I'm at today and that the changes I've made so far have made a difference. Now, mind you, I'm not "there" yet, wherever "there" is; but things are much simpler than they were and I can feel that focus propelling the business forward now.
Today I offer three basic packages. I've found designers I can trust to refer the WordPress requests to. I was able to bring my prices up a bit to match the focused quality of the work I'm doing, and in turn I'm putting more energy into building products and courses for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and not ready to invest in a graphic designer.
None of this could or would have happened while I was flailing around trying to make everybody happy.
If you still aren't convinced, here are some more concise reasons for simplifying what you're offering your customers.
Four Reasons To Simplify Your Services & Products Right Now
Our decision making power is finite. Most of us are asked to make choices from the time we wake up (What do I wear? What do I eat for breakfast? Should I work out now or later?) to the time we go to bed. We only have so much decision juice in us, and let's be honest - if we're faced with a services page containing eight different nuanced choices for the same service we're probably going to just leave and go to Chipotle.
Jack of all trades doesn't pay very well. If you're flailing around trying to make everyone happy you probably aren't becoming an expert at any one thing. And in today's world the experts are the ones making the big bucks. Narrowing your focus to one or two main services or products allows you to laser focus on making them the best they can be.
Fear makes a terrible boss. If you let fear run your business you'll constantly make decisions based on lack instead of love. When you make decisions based in fear you tend to compromise or take a poor deal out of worry that another one won't come along. Operating from a place of love instead allows you to make decisions based on what's best for you and for the long term good of the business.
Life is enjoyed in the margins. Think of a page from your favorite book, or a poster for a movie you really want to see. Now imagine there was no whitespace around the elements. The text and images just stacked on top of each other stretching from the top to the bottom of the page with no breathing room. In design we know leaving whitespace is crucial for the enjoyment of the design. Life is the same way, we need to create times of calm to enjoy the rest. Running a business automatically adds more crazy to your life, simplifying allows for a little more calm.